As far as I know, present infinitive is used as verbal noun for the nominative and accusative, and gerund is used as verbal noun in other oblique cases (genitive, dative and ablative). I would like to ask what is used as verbal noun in oblique cases for the passive form.

As an example "the art of loving" is ars amandi. How can I translate literally "the art of being loved"?

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    I'll let another answer the question, but I do want to point out that the infinitive/gerund distinction you outlined isn't quite correct. The gerund is very often seen in the accusative (chiefly with ad). I also don't think it's really relevant to your actual question, so it might make for a less distracting question if that part is removed (or brought up separately!).
    – cmw
    Commented Jun 29, 2022 at 21:43
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    @cmw It is also news to me that the accusative is not an oblique case, but the core question is a good one. Commented Jun 29, 2022 at 22:29
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    Welcome to the site, interesting question. (The infinitive is used in the 'bare' accusative, i.e. without a praeposition, whereas the gerund is used after a praeposition.) As to your question, I suspect there is no direct way to translate that, using a passive verbal noun.
    – Cerberus
    Commented Jun 30, 2022 at 0:24

1 Answer 1


You asked two questions. Your second question, how do you say the art of being loved, is easier to answer. As always, there are many ways to say it. Off the top of my head, I'd start with Ars ejus, quod est amari (the art of what it is to be loved).

Your first question, what is the genitive of a passive gerund, is much more interesting and much less straight forward. The reason is that there is no such thing as a passive gerund, so far as I know.

But passive infinitives are not the only infinitives which lack a gerund. Posse and esse also lack a gerund, and that brings to my mind the neo-Latin expression, A posse ad esse (from being able to merely being)

Here we have two infinitives serving as the objects of prepositions, which is normally a no-no. You should use gerunds as the object of your prepositions. But since posse and esse have no gerunds, Liebnitz and Kant (and a host of others) use the bare infinitives as neuter indeclinable nouns (which is exactly what the grammar books say they are).

But using an infinitive as the object of a preposition is not entirely a neo-Latin novelty. Woodcock (#27) cites a few rare instances of Plautus, Cicero, and Valerius Maximus using infinitives in less usual ways. As an object of a preposition he cites Cicero (Sen. de Ben. 5, 10) inter dare et recipere (between giving and receiving) and Horace (Sat. 2, 5, 65) praeter plorare (beyond weeping).

So if you are not entirely averse to using a mostly unattested form, you might want to consider going the preposition route, something like ars ad amari (an art for being loved), or ars de amari (an art concerning being loved).

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    Are there attested examples of ars ad/de with a noun in the classical or other eras? That would help sell your last suggestion.
    – Joonas Ilmavirta
    Commented Jul 4, 2022 at 2:32
  • @JoonasIlmavirta I want to say I've seen ars de [subject matter] before, but any I may have seen have been lost to memory. A google search turns up ars de statica medicina, a 17th century tome, and a few other hits. A corpus search turns up basically nothing.
    – Figulus
    Commented Jul 4, 2022 at 21:51
  • @JoonasIlmavirta I do not recall ever reading ars ad before, but once again that may be fault of my memory. Google turns up many interesting hits from neo-Latin and scholastic writers, including even a 1960 book review in Time magazine called Ars ad deorum gloriam. There's also Ars ad faciendum et solvendum quaestiones, and ars ad speculum (another book).
    – Figulus
    Commented Jul 4, 2022 at 22:06
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    The preposition + infinitive construction is interesting. It feels wrong, but perhaps only in the prescriptive sense. I wonder how an ancient person would have understood it. Perhaps an informal thing? I'm less sold on ad + gerund though as a substitute for the genitive. "The art of loving" and "Art for the purpose of loving" are completely different things, and I think the same would be true for ars amandi and ars ad armandum. The Romans of course just said ars amatoria!
    – cmw
    Commented Jul 12, 2022 at 18:18
  • @cmw I wonder the same thing.
    – Figulus
    Commented Jul 13, 2022 at 3:00

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